Charles Reis—Writer of the North

Charles’ wonderfully hippie mother gave birth to him in 1979 in the smallest state of Rhode Island. Although he grew up in the town of Coventry, he now resides with his cat Joey in West Warwick, a city whose residents make the guests on The Jerry Springer Show look like the culturally elite. His primary writing interest is horror, but also freely dabbles in fantasy and science fiction.

Joey with fundraiser anthology “rejected”

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, magic spells, etc.

My writing process must begin with inspiration. I mean, let’s face it, you can’t separate creative writing and inspiration. It’s a symbiotic relationship. For me, it can come from anywhere. An example is “Alone” found in the anthology Rejected, which is inspired by a nightmare I had as a kid. Once I get that, the magic begins!

The process itself is 65 percent writing and 35 percent research. Depending on the research needed for a story, it might be a lot more. While the stories may contain zombies, ghosts, and dragons, I try to stay accurate when it comes to culture, history, and language. Recently, I’ve had three drabbles (100-word stories) accepted in Forgotten Ones: Drabbles of Myth and Legend. Each dealt with certain cultural mythologies (Icelandic, Persian, and Canaanite). I did my research to make sure it was accurate to the beliefs. Other stories had me researching historic figures and locations, regional slang, etc. It’s time-consuming, but it’s worth it. I’ve learned so much stuff about other people and our world from my research … an added bonus!

My actual writing process is simple. Every morning (the only time at my apartment when it’s quiet), I sit down at my laptop and type away. Whatever words come into my head, I quickly get them down. However, this can only continue if my brain works properly. If it gets stuck and I can’t type, I must step away from my desk. Most of the time when I do, the words return to me as my brain reboots.

During the process, I often change, remove, or add scenes and characters. This requires me to go back over what I’ve done to make sure everything is coherent. That can take up time, but it’s necessary.

Walk me through your submission / publishing process from “final” draft to final product, including who does what when, and marketing that you do as the author.

Before I consider my draft to be final, I’ll read the manuscript out loud. This helps me correct errors and to hear if the dialogue is natural. I’ve noticed over the years that sometimes a sentence will read correctly in your mind, but when it’s verbalized it sounds weird. I don’t just do this once, but dozens of times. I know my story is the “final” draft if I read it aloud a few times and don’t change anything.

Next, I’ll need to find a perfect home for it. Since my stories fall into flash fiction/short works, I look for publishers that are looking for works for their anthologies. Many have a theme, like with More Lore for the Mythos, in which the stories had to be connected to the Cthulhu Mythos (That was a fun one to write for since I’m a huge Lovecraft fan). In the past, I’ve modified existing works to fit the theme, but only if the story will benefit from it. I did this with my first story to be published in print, “Maiden from the Sea.” The plot and characters were the same in the original manuscript as with the final draft, but the date and location were different. When One Night in Salem sent out a call out for submissions, they wanted stories that take place on Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts. I went back to my manuscript, changed the original location from Block Island to Salem, and had the setting on Halloween. Presto! It was accepted!

Once the story is accepted, then it’s the waiting game for its release. That can be anywhere from one to six months. When it’s out, I do my best to market it using my social media, such as Facebook and Instagram. If not provided by the publisher, I’ll create artwork to highlight my contribution. This isn’t because I’m an ego-maniac, but many on my social media accounts are friends, family, and acquaintances. A short description with a buy link accompanies the artwork and I use them to go on a promotion blitz, posting on any appropriate group that I find. I don’t do it daily, only once or twice a week. I don’t want to “overkill” it.

Other promotions are virtual book releases on Facebook. I’ve done this mostly for Dragon Soul Press, and it can be a lot of fun! Generally, I get a half-hour spot for the event to do a post every five minutes. If the event involves an anthology release that has my story in it, I will focus on that. If not, I’ll write about my other works. However, I make sure to interact with others in the event, such as posting a picture for a writing prompt, asking about their favorite authors, etc. Yes, I use these events to promote myself, but I try to make sure others get involved.

Talk about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

Much of my online support comes from fellow authors, including Erin Kathleen, Zoey Xolton, Stefan Lear, Roma Gray, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kevin Lewis, and Amber Newberry Izzo. There’s so many more that I just can’t list them all. I feel a little guilty about leaving so many out. Anyway, I find the vast majority of writers are supportive of one another. I’ll mention that I’ve met Kevin Lewis and Amber Newberry in person, while I’ve had some fun conversations with Erin and Stefan.

The publishers are also supportive. I give props to FunDead, Eerie River, Dragon Soul, and Black Hare for their help. However, I’ll give a special shout out to David Reavis of Breaking Rules Publishing, who convinced me to start up my own Facebook Author’s Page.

I will say my biggest IRL cheerleaders would be my good friends Andrew in the UK, Alex in Ireland, and Steve in the USA. They encourage me when I get frustrated and lift me up when I feel low… great friends indeed! Stephen and Alex have also used their social media to promote too.

How does life influence your writing and vice versa?

My characters tend to be based on people I know, although loosely. Also, many of my personality traits, from hobbies to personal experiences, end up in my characters. Some examples are Rebecca in “Maiden from the Sea” in One Night in Salem (we share an interest in the paranormal and folklore) and Ernest in “Battle of Plymouth” in Coffins & Dragons (we both lost our fathers). I have so many examples, but that will take all day to list.

Does writing influence my life? A little, but only when it comes to research. Generally, this happened when I’m writing about another region or culture. When I wrote a story that took place in France (“The Glass Mausoleum” in Creep), I had a desire to visit that country. So far, I’ve been twice!

What do you love most about your creativity?

I feel like I’m creating a living world, bringing an entire universe into existence. Whenever I write a character, monster, or planet, I breathe life into them. Creativity allows me to play “god” in some way. Sometimes I believe that when the story is published, the world I created comes alive in some alternate reality. It’s silly, but that’s what creativity does to me.

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